By Noah Jaeger
Pastors and ministry leaders traveled from across the state for Arizona Southern Baptists’ Engage AZ 2019 evangelism conference. More 200 attendees filled the spacious Heart Cry Church auditorium in Queen Creek on Nov. 14.
Engage intended to explain, motivate and provide practical examples of evangelism through community engagement.
“We want our pastors and leaders to engage their fields of harvest in Arizona,” said Eddy Pearson, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention church life team facilitator.
Chad Moore, lead pastor of Sun Valley Community Church, with five lcoations in the East Valley and Casa Grande, was the keynote speaker for the event. Moore shared personal stories and experiences to motivate leaders to reach their communities with the gospel.
“The church is not a building you come and sit in, it’s a movement you choose to be a part of to help people meet, know and follow Jesus,” Moore said. “When the church realizes that we don’t come to church, we are the church, then things will begin to change.”
The afternoon opened with Moore sharing personal stories of lives he saw changed because of his personal evangelism.
After the first keynote, a variety of pastors from Tucson to Surprise shared testimonies of how they reach the lost people in their communities. Ministries ranged from outreach to strip clubs to partnering with and serving local schools.
“[A total of] 16,312 cars go by our church every day,” said Pastor Jackie Allen of Cross Church. “I believe it ought to be harder for people to die and go to hell in our zip code than any other zip code.”
Following the pastors’ testimonies, four pastors, including Moore and hosting pastor, Billy Van Camp, were part of a question-and-answer panel. Questions ranged from church structure to experiences with failure.
Moore then delivered his final keynote session. He defined culture and shared four ways to build a powerful evangelistic culture in the church: inspire, instruct, illustrate and ignite.
“Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail against us,” Moore said. “We are on offense. So, the only thing that can stop the church is the church.”
Following dinner, churches who led in the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention’s Centennial Vision goals this year were recognized. Categories ranged from dollars given to the Cooperative Program to number of baptisms.
In addition, lifetime achievement awards were presented to Dennis Adams, James Hayes and Coy Wilkerson, all longtime Arizona Southern Baptist pastors.
The AZSBC’s evangelism discipleship team designed the Engage conference. The team noticed a trend of churches not prioritizing evangelism in their ministries.
“If you’re serious about discipleship, but not serious about evangelism, then you’re not really serious about discipleship,” Pearson said.
Moore was invited to speak at Engage because of Sun Valley Community Church’s extraordinary community engagement. Ministry leaders from all over the state were encouraged to learn from a church who highly prioritizes evangelism and were invited to act like-mindedly.